Quarterback J.P. Losman did not play poorly enough to lose the starting job, but did he play well enough to keep it?
Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron was mum about whether Losman would remain the starter after he helped lead a 13-10, come-from-behind victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Losman completed 12 of 23 passes for 157 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. But he made some key throws down the stretch, got a critical first down on a fourth-down quarterback sneak and engineered two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to help the Bills avoid an embarrassing upset to the only winless team in the NFL.
Jauron wasn't ready to critique Losman's performance, giving the familiar, "I have to look at the tape" refrain. But Jauron did give Losman credit for making some plays at the end.
"He missed on some throws, and at the end of the game, he made some big throws. The quarterback sneak was huge."
Losman's solid fourth quarter made up for his struggles in the other three stanzas. The Bills went three plays and out on their first four possessions and it was nearly 21 minutes into the game before they recorded a first down.
Losman's first five passes fell incomplete. Late in the second quarter, he had wide receiver Lee Evans open in the end zone, but the pass was underthrown and intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Will Allen. Losman also took a couple of sacks that were the result of good coverage by Miami and his indecisiveness in the pocket.
"They did a good job scheming us," Losman said. "They were pretty much two deep all day, taking away the deep stuff and taking away anything over 10 yards. You just got to check it down and keep the ball in our guys' hands on some little things and let them make some plays."
Losman also got a little pep talk from his best receiver.
"Early in that game I just told him to keep playing. Shake it off and keep playing," Evans said. "Some of the things they were doing it was kind of a chess match between what we wanted to do and the coverages they played. But in the second half he really responded and played a lot better and played like he needed to for us to win that football game."
Especially late in the game. After the Dolphins took a 10-2 lead, Losman went 4 for 4 for 55 yards on a 66-yard drive, including a 19-yard throw to tight end Michael Gaines that set up the tying touchdown and two-point conversion. Losman also had a 1-yard gain on a sneak on fourth-and-1 to keep the drive alive.
On his next possession, Losman moved the Bills in position to kick the winning field goal.
"It shows a lot about our team," Losman said about the comeback. "Our backs were against the wall and we had to score. We made plays when we had to today. Of course we would have liked to start off faster and done some things. But it was one of those days where they had the perfect call. If we were running it they were blitzing. If we were passing it they were zoning off. We guessed wrong a couple of times and two other instances I should have checked it down to the back. They had some good schemes, but we were able to make the plays when we had to. That says a lot about our team right now."